After weeks of debate, the nearly split city directors passed an urban deer hunt in Fort Smith. The hunt is intended to control the deer population and will be limited to archery.
According to Marilyn Bentz, Executive Director of the National Bowhunter Education Foundation, urban deer hunts are common across the U.S. She says in Fort Smith white tail deer are adapting to urban conditions and overrunning some areas.
"Too many deer and not enough acreage - they don’t have enough food," said Jim Pollard, archery technician at Gellco in Fort Smith. "Your deer population not only suffers, but the quality of the deer suffer also.”
People interested in joining the urban bow hunt will need to meet a variety of requirements set by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. This includes passing the International Bowhunter Education Program course offered by Bentz's organization.
“We provide the curriculum so that the bow hunters that take part in the urban deer hunts are very educated and skilled at taking the white tail deer in a very humane and ethical manner,” said Bentz.
Hunters must also attend an urban hunt orientation and pass a proficiency exam. Pollard says a proficiency exam should be required and hopes it will minimize the number of deer injured by inaccurate shots.
Bentz estimates there are three million bowhunters in the U.S. She said there's been a lot of interest in the urban hunts.
“We’re actually doing a little gearing up for this," said Bentz. "We’re holding special bow hunter education instructor classes so that we’ll be able to meet that need when those people want to have classes for (the urban hunt).”